Revisiting A Classic: Kendrick Lamar’s “Cartoons & Cereal” & It’s Impact Today

Elmer Feud say, shoot em down..

 In the earlier stages of Kendrick Lamar’s career (we’ll say about the  period between O.D. & Section.80), fans looked to him a lot like they did Kanye West when he first dropped. He was a new voice for the voiceless, he was rebellious, he was respected, and his music was so authentically defying to the industry norm, that we were mesmerized by what he represented.

I do believe during this time, Young Money was a STAPLE. There wasn’t a camp out there that could really touch YMCMB, and so with that being said, it’s easy to figure out what type of phase the game was in– punch line after punchline.. radio hit after hit. Very hyped with very little real musicianship. But even with that being so, a new wave of culture-shocking artists were readying to emerge. Acts like Phil Ade & K. Dot served as that breath of fresh air into real lyrical content.

Fast forward a bit into 2012, and K. Dot and his brothers are out here putting TDE on the MAP.

Is it an arguable statement to make in saying that Kendrick Lamar and his 2012 release, “Cartoons and Cereal” is one of his heavier record releases to date?.. which allowed him the opportunity to be considered the phenomenon he is today?

I think so.

This drop came well before Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. THAT project only confirmed what we were already aware of at the point of its release.. Kendrick was going to be one of the greatest. Around the times of Cartoons & Cereal, we were merely sold on his notoriety and chance of longevity in the game.

I read an excerpt via COMPLEX that second’s my notion on the pre-album released record:

The structure and songwriting are phenomenal, and this is why the song is one of the main tracks people bring up when discussing Kendrick’s song-making ability –Angel Diaz

I had to listen to “Cartoons & Cereal” in two different segments to get a real feel for it. In one session, I listened to the lyricism, breaking down what he was saying and what he meant by what was cryptic into the track (cartoons and cereal=sugar and cheap entertainment.. “the opiates of the masses”). In another session, I really focused on the composition of the record.. How he thrived off of the energy provided with the production even with slight vocal detail throughout the song. Kendrick took Hip-Hop by storm using the conscience voice in the background of many of his songs. That “inner voice” like approach on Cartoons & Cereal made just the right impact to lead fans into wondering what to expect from his debut album, and it definitely boosted his ranking as an unmatched lyricist, still yet to be trumped out of his rightful throne.

Now, in 2017, whenever Cartoons & Cereal is dropped at a concert or any event, it’s like a rare energy that hasn’t been tapped into in ages. It goes CRAZY. That same energy I felt upon my initial listening of the record.. that same way I lost my sh*t in 2012, is lived out every-time I run that track at maximum volume capacity today.

Kendrick Lamar is timeless, and the music he’s produced thus far in his career has placed him in conversations with 20-year in the game veterans before he even accomplished 10 years into his own.

It’s the hits that didn’t become singles or album features that ultimately help contribute to our overall rationality of an artist and their greatness. B-sides end up becoming the real classics. With Cartoons & Cereal now 5 years old, and K. Dot an indisputable mastermind, I think it’s safe to say that music shall indeed live on. I wonder which track’s we’ll be mentioning as his top 5 and 10 in another few years.

Stream below to a classic Kendrick Lamar drop, “Cartoons & Cereal“.


  1. There’s an easy argument to be made that the Pulitzer committee actually needs Kendrick Lamar far more than Lamar needs its accolades. But ultimately, this moment feels bigger than Lamar in so many ways.


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